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Transforming How Asians Think About Exercise

Lavina Mehta MBE

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Transforming How Asians Think About Exercise

Lavina Mehta MBE

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Lavina Mehta MBE
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About Lavina Mehta MBE

The BAE HQ welcomes Lavina Mehta MBE, a personal trainer, wellness coach and mum of 3.

She originally turned to the gym to lose pregnancy weight but soon fell in love with the effect it had on her mental health.

Lavina studied for her PT qualifications and through her innovative idea of "exercise snacks" has appeared on Sky News.

During the pandemic, her free online fitness sessions took off and she rapidly grew to over 100k followers and even earned recognition from the Queen for her part in getting the nation active!

She's also a Diabetes UK Ambassador and a Menopause Mandate Patron.

Lavina Mehta MBE

Show Notes

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Lavina Mehta MBE Full Transcript

Lavina Mehta: [00:00:00] Exercise for sanity, not vanity. 

Amardeep Parmar: Love that.

Lavina Mehta: My  crazy idea for the exercise snacks that then got picked up by Sky News, it's all about how effective that even five minutes, even a minute, every time you exercise, your metabolism is improving. Even when I post my own and my husband's transformation, I get the most likes and the most comments, but I'm trying to show you that exercise is going to help you feel good mentally.

Lavina Mehta: And it's going to help reduce, you know, all these chronic illnesses. I want to break those barriers of cost, time and motivation. Just give it a shot. Don't overthink it.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ podcast, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs. Today we have with us Lavinia Mehta, MBE, who's a personal trainer, wellness coach, and mom of three. She also won an MBE for her services to health and fitness during the pandemic. How are you doing today?

Amardeep Parmar: I'm good. Thanks for having me here.

Amardeep Parmar: You're more than [00:01:00] welcome. So your story's been really inspiring to so many people and obviously the queen at the time recognized that. Where did this all start from? Like, did you ever believe that you'd be where you are today and you'd be making the impact you're making in the health and fitness space when you're growing up?

Lavina Mehta: Big no. A, I wasn't sporty when I was younger. I only got into my own fitness journey in my thirties. So I am now 44, full disclosure here. 

Amardeep Parmar: You don't look a day 21. 

Lavina Mehta:  Thank you. So literally I wasn't into school sports. I just kind of tick the boxes, fell in love with strength training when I left my corporate career.

Lavina Mehta: So after having our third boy, Sahil, who's now 15 and got in love with the gym, but only when I got in my head around getting my own personal trainer and fell in love with what it not only did for me physically, because I did have quite a lot of weight to shed and you can scroll down really far down my Instagram to look at my before and afters.

Lavina Mehta: I don't post them often. ‘Cause it's not just about how we look. Obviously I had been through pregnancy. So I'd put on the way I was probably [00:02:00] twice the size that I am now, but it was more what it did for my mind. And, um, yeah, in short, I never ever imagined like let alone being a personal trainer, which is not very typical for an Asian woman, although it's, I think it's becoming quite on trend in, in the future which is great.

Lavina Mehta: To help inspire, you know, anyone that wants to go down this route, but yeah, I, I studied management. So I was in the corporate world and I guess I was doing, you know, like most Asian parents wanted their daughter to go into a, a good career and settle down and have a family. And this has just been my passion.

Lavina Mehta: And it's obviously been an incredible couple of years, but really surreal even now talking about it. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you think stopped you from being like sporty or into fitness when you were younger? Was it a mental thing or what, what kind of prevented you? Is it just something you didn't know that you enjoyed yet?

Lavina Mehta: I mean, I like team sports.

Lavina Mehta: So I did netball and lacrosse. I hated swimming because the school that I was in, we had to go into an outdoor swimming pool in the UK. So you can imagine me trying to, you know, write, get my [00:03:00] mom to write notes. I was always unable to attend those lessons. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I would never say that I chose to do it out of school.

Lavina Mehta: I did things like dance. I did Ghatak, which is like an, you know, an Indian traditional form of dance. I love my music. I loved art. Art was actually the career that I wanted to go down. So I did art A level, and when I asked my parents if I could go to Central St. Martin School of Art and then kind of discover what you know, career would then go from this one year foundation.

Lavina Mehta: My mom has always been very supportive and she has led a similar path where she found cooking. So she's a cookery writer and an author and she found her joy when my brother and I had kind of gone into independent, like, secondary schools. So around the age of  11, she found her own path, which is what I've kind of done with my boys.

Lavina Mehta: And so mom always encouraged me to paint, but more as a hobby. And so I studied management at university. I would say I think it's more [00:04:00] that I was never really into the gym. I had free access to um, an amazing corporate gym when I was working in the city and I would go to the odd class but there was never, you know, that kind of passion and I didn't really fall in love with it.

Lavina Mehta: It was more that I should just do something for my health. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned there about your corporate gym and your corporate career because obviously before you were even doing this, you had a very good corporate career and you did work your way up and you then like gave up later on. And how did that change you as a person, I guess, because you obviously, you had this mindset of like, you're a BP, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And there was very few people like you doing what you were doing and rising up the ranks. And what was that decision like to then step away from that?

Lavina Mehta: Really hard. I loved what I did. I would say actually the career that I had, you know, after university was kind of, I think comparable now when I'm writing and sharing my story to the last few years, because I started off just with a dot.com company.

Lavina Mehta: I don't know if you remember boo.com and obviously the platform now is boohoo. com, but I'd [00:05:00] done a thesis at, uh, Umist, in Manchester where I’m studying about internet e-retailing which is really unheard of. Like no one can ever imagine buying clothing on the internet. I got, you know, a fantastic lecturer at UMIST. I feel like I've met these incredible people that have really shaped my journey, like almost angels sent, you know, to kind of guide me on this path.

Lavina Mehta: And I got an amazing job. job at this, um, really small startup called boo.com that went boom to bust in nine months. I started off as like a testing man, you know, tester for their website and then I got to a testing manager. I got to a project manager all in the space of nine months. And that is what kickstarted my career great position where people were looking for people with dot com experience.

Lavina Mehta: And then I joined another company in Silicon Valley. I traveled a lot. I was in New York for a few months, so I was really embracing my career. I then became a mom and met my amazing husband. And I fought to go part time, [00:06:00] especially with my older two boys. ‘Cause I was commuting, you know, an hour and a half from Pinner to Canary Wharf, and then the demands of my role was such that I would be called in the middle of the night.

Lavina Mehta: So I managed all their intranet and extranet web hosting. So any, anything that went down at BP, I would get called and I had to make the call when I felt pregnant with  Sahil to give it up and it was very, very difficult. I have no regrets, because especially because I was South Asian. I was young. I was actually managing teams that were all white and they were predominantly all male.

Lavina Mehta: So looking back on that now is, you know, it's obviously given me great experience. Yeah, it was a hard decision, but I got to, you know, the kind of level that I wanted to, which was great. Now, I'm so glad to see that, you know, moms. and working mothers, females and males are offered, you know, so much more inflexible working and obviously the pandemic has changed the way we work anyway.

Lavina Mehta: So yeah, no regrets, but I did love every minute of my career, [00:07:00] but I feel it was, it served its purpose. It's given me such a good foundation and that's why I do a lot of workplace wellness because I love going back into companies and you know, now it's to try and keep people fit and healthy, like physically, mentally.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's one of those things where I think sometimes people forget is that. The big corporates have such a huge responsibility as well, right? If you've got 100, 000 employees or 200, 000, like something like BP or the big four, then bringing people like you on board to try and help those employees can actually make a really big difference because people sometimes think it's gotta be from the government, but then also the employers have got this access to so many people and also the resources where they can help too.

Amardeep Parmar: What got you into that side of things? I'm right in thinking it was first of all, you became a PT after your journey after you like trying to lose your pregnancy weight and then getting fitter. And then after that, where did it go from there?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, so I joined the gym when my youngest son, my older two had got into their schools.

Lavina Mehta: Youngest son had just started kindergarten. I just joined the gym. A, because I had a health scare when I was in my late 20s. So something that I have gone on Sky News [00:08:00] to talk about very openly. Another big taboo, you know, things that us, especially Asian communities don't talk about is where I found that I had some mild dyskaryosis.

Lavina Mehta: So it's some cell changes from a smear test. And obviously smear tests are things that women hate doing and we don't often talk about. So I raised a lot of awareness at the beginning, like about that, but that little health scare then kind of got me in to thinking I need to do something for myself. And I joined the gym, was jumping around classes.

Lavina Mehta: Then, like I said, I got my own personal trainer. I'd never ever lifted weights. I think it's empowering, but it's just that way that when I was lifting those weights, it made me feel strong body and mind. And it just kind of takes you away from all the noise outside, like any of your worries. I just love being, it's almost that flow state that people talk about.

Lavina Mehta: And I fell in love with what it was doing. I lost my father in law who was you know, like literally like my gem, he would be sitting, you know, right here with me right now. He's, [00:09:00] he was like my angel, you know, like he helped me bring the kids up so much. The whole family did, but I had a very special bond with my father in law and he got diagnosed with a brain tumor very quickly.

Lavina Mehta: So we lost him within six months. When my father in law was deteriorating so quickly, it was actually the gym that was my sanity. I then just decided, okay, let me just do some learning. I'd help. My mom actually print and publish her second book, which is called feel good with food, which is where the feel good brand comes from.

Lavina Mehta: And I typed it, you know, like I was heavily pregnant. We did all the photography, learn a lot about antioxidants and the power of food. So it's all about the science behind you know what we eat and why we eat it. She's a biological scientist. So the nutrition side, I'd already started learning a lot from my mom.

Lavina Mehta: And then I was like, this is incredible. Like what the gym is actually doing, especially through, you know, such a hard life experience after losing my father in law that I didn't tell anyone. And I did tell my husband and my kids that I [00:10:00] wanted to do a home study course. And it was literally just for my own benefit, like not

Lavina Mehta: ever, ever thinking it would be anything like a career. And in the evenings when the kids went to bed, I was, um, basically doing biology, like a level again. So level two was my fitness instructing and learning about physiology, anatomy, and the science behind exercise, which is what really excites me. And then I just carried on.

Lavina Mehta: I was like, this is amazing. I'm loving this. Did level three again, didn't tell anyone. And then when I started telling a few friends, they were like, oh, Lavina, can you train us? And I actually was very blessed. We had a little home gym in our basement. I was like, okay, I'll just take a couple of friends on, you know, like to see how it goes.

Lavina Mehta: And it was incredible that not only did I get a huge demand, because I guess, you know, it's very different coming to just to me one to one in our own space, you know, in sort of in my home rather than a big public gym, which can be quite intimidating. Um, [00:11:00] but I was starting to see incredible results. And I had women like from the age of 30 to 70, all different goals, not just weight loss.

Lavina Mehta: You know, some were just coming, the older ones had things like osteoporosis or diabetes or they'd had operations injuries. I had moms that were trying to lose, you know, the weight. I had some that were going through menopause at the time, and I just loved it. I was literally dropping the kids off and I was just cramming my day with as many clients as I could, getting incredible results.

Lavina Mehta: So as an ex project manager, I was really thorough about like structured plans, very personalized, really on it. It was just that satisfaction of seeing someone, you know, maybe coming in in the first, at the beginning of the session, feeling really down and upset or whatever's going on in their lives, which we all have so much going on in our lives.

Lavina Mehta: Like social media is another whole topic we can touch on, but I really feel like that kind of feeling before a workout or a session [00:12:00] and then seeing them leave, you know, where the endorphins are released and they're feeling good and they're feeling more positive and just the smile. It was just so satisfying.

Lavina Mehta: And then obviously the results were incredible. So those that needed to lose weight were hitting their goals. Some women were just getting so strong. everything in their lives, like not just how they looked and how they felt, but even their relationships, you know, maybe at work, maybe with their kids, maybe with their mother in laws, you know, like it's just kind of, I got so much satisfaction.

Lavina Mehta: I had a huge demand, huge waiting list, which I was very blessed to have. And, um, I actually launched my own online app. Um, during that period, it was very new and I got things set up, you know, for online training. and never really invested into it fully. And it was just when the pandemic hit that I had just prior to that got onto Sky News quite a few times.

Amardeep Parmar: So it's incredible to see like how, where you came from, where you got to, and like what you continue to do. And first of all, I just want to say [00:13:00] about your father in law and with your mother as well, about the support you had from your family. And like how nice it is to see, because obviously with my own story and my own dad, then that's meant a lot to me.

Amardeep Parmar: And I know that's a big reason why I've got to where I have got to today. But I also loved you talked about with exercise, not just about weight loss, because that's what I was asking you at the beginning, because I knew that initially some of the motivation was about weight loss after the pregnancy, but then you discovered so much more about mindset and how much more it was helping you.

Amardeep Parmar: And you're saying about how you've helped people who came into the train and they were feeling depressed and how at the end of the session, they're feeling so much happier. And that's the kind of side of things which sometimes. I think especially in still South Asian communities where we don't appreciate it enough, sometimes people think, are you going to the gym to look good?

Amardeep Parmar: And it doesn't have to be like that at all, right? It can make your day feel better. It can, it can just give you that sense of achievement sometimes, or the like overload and going a little bit further each day. I want to also bring you back to where you said you start off just a few friends in the basement because sometimes, I don't know people listening, they plan forever because they want to start with such a huge bang, but you don't [00:14:00] need to do that, right?

Amardeep Parmar: You can start with a few friends in your basement and you can start with a few customers. Test the product out. See if you enjoy doing it because you might've taken the course because you just took it for your knowledge, right? You're not taking it for your own knowledge. Like the information, but not really like teaching it.

Amardeep Parmar: And there's nothing bad about that. It's just different personalities and what suits you, but by doing it, your friends first, you could like test out, get your program in place, work out what you're like doing. So that when you do more customers in the future, then it's not as nerve wracking, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because you've already, you've already done those, like got that experience in there. And moving on to the online app now, you mentioned too many interesting things. And so I'm proud of myself remembering all of that with the online app, where did that come about from? Because obviously that's a way to scale the information you've got rather than just having when you work with people one on one, you make such a transformation, but so many people can benefit from your ideas and what you're doing.

Amardeep Parmar: So where did that online  app come from?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, I mean, it was good because actually it was a tool that I found and I was thinking, you know, even when I go into the gym, you kind of go into the gym, there's so many machines, [00:15:00] people just head straight for the cardio, whereas I'm trying to get them to lift weights because honestly, if you do want to lose weight, uh, lifting  weights is,

Lavina Mehta: I would say more effective than cardio. So not only are you retaining and building your muscle mass, the more muscle mass you have at rest, your body is going to continuously burn calories. So it's going to really help if you've got weight loss goals and being South Asian, obviously being in a good, normal weight range is important just because of our risk factors.

Lavina Mehta: We're so disproportionately affected by things like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, you know, the list goes on, unfortunately, just in our communities, right? I'm sure you've got members of the family, friends, you know, that have got diabetes. So hence I'm now a diabetes UK ambassador, cause you can hear I'm very passionate about this, but yeah, the app was actually a flute.

Lavina Mehta: I would say it was more that when I went into the gym, I wanted to, you know, people have the carry notebooks. I wanted to log my workouts and I was getting stronger and you know, [00:16:00] it is little old me, but even now, you know, I get a buzz out of my like 70 kg dead lifts or my hundred KG Glute Bridges. It's not that I'm saying lift heavy, but I wanted to track my progress being my ex project manager probably as well.

Lavina Mehta: So I did find a great tool and I developed my own app and I started giving it to some of my regular clients. I was like, you know, now I want you to feel confident. It doesn't mean that. I just want you to keep coming to me because a, I'm a mom of three and I'm squeezing you in and I know you want to come, you know, maybe two or three times, but I want you to have the confidence to go and train on your own.

Lavina Mehta: So follow this plan, log it all, we can track your progress and you can log your food. You can log your weight, your measurements, your progress pictures, all that kind of fun stuff on this one tool. And obviously now, I mean, the pandemic has changed the health and fitness industry so much that now, you know, you see an influx of online PTs, online content, online apps.

Lavina Mehta: So it was really, I would say [00:17:00] quite fluky that I, you know, sort of generated this and it was ready for the future of fitness. But what I did, you know, obviously when the pandemic hit was totally out of my comfort zone. So what you're saying about sometimes don't overthink it, you know, don't worry too much and don't plan too much because I would honestly say hand on heart that everything that's happened in my journey has

Lavina Mehta: been without that sort of planning. It's just been going with the gut. And sometimes I go for walks. I call them feel good walks. ‘Cause that's where I got my crazy idea for the exercise snacks that then got picked up by Sky News featured on Sky News, which then called..

Amardeep Parmar:  Tell us more about exercise snacking.

Lavina Mehta: Yeah. So exercise snacking is my lovely concept-  Is not having a jalebi or a samosa while we're exercising. It's all about short, bite sized amounts of movement. And I went back to the science of exercise and I was thinking, you know, sometimes we're all leading such busy lives. You know, I'm a mom. I've got obligations with the family, with the kids, the house.

Lavina Mehta: I'm starting this new career [00:18:00] path. I may not have time to go into a gym. For 60 minutes or an hour and the science behind exercise snacking is quite amazing. It's all about how effective that even five minutes, even a minute, you know, like over the age of 60 with the workouts I now do for seniors, it's even a minute is better than nothing.

Lavina Mehta: And every time you exercise, your metabolism is actually improving. So it can all add up to try and hit the government guidelines, which is what I really want people to hit to help reduce our risks of chronic illnesses, you know, from everything from cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, the science.

Lavina Mehta: You can hear the passion I really have is the magic that exercise does beyond how we look. And that's why I say mental health is so important, especially in our communities. It's not talked about, you know, I read about the terrible rates, you know, of suicide for Asian men and that pressure, you know, that especially Asian men have, and they put on [00:19:00] themselves from external cultural family pressures.

Lavina Mehta: It's so hard and so sad for me to see that people aren't opening up. And I think it's changing. So I've been trying to obviously last few years. Raise a lot about breaking these taboos and get people to talk, but the mental health benefits, that's why I say exercise for sanity, not vanity has been my slogan throughout

Amardeep Parmar: Love that.

Lavina Mehta:  And you won't see, unfortunately, a lot of transformation pictures on my Instagram.

Lavina Mehta: You can go to my website and you'll see all my old one to one clients. And if that's what, you know, gets you excited, have a look at them. Even when I post my own and my husband's transformation, you know, I get the most likes and the most comments. But I'm trying to show you that exercise is going to help you not just look good, but feel good mentally.

Lavina Mehta: And it's going to help reduce, you know, all these chronic illnesses that we're so disproportionately affected by in our communities. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's on the mental health point now, obviously, with what I've been through recently and my, my dad, it's the whole community side of things where, [00:20:00] at my dad's funeral, so many people came up to me and said, Oh, so you know, you're the man of the house and I need to look after everybody.

Amardeep Parmar: It's like, is that really helpful? Like, is that actually helping me? Or is that like, I know they're obviously coming from a good place. I want me to make sure that I'm like helping my mom and my sisters. But it's like, what do you think that does to me? Obviously I'm already putting a lot of pressure on myself.

Amardeep Parmar: Right. And even now, like, I'm self aware enough to know what I'm doing. Even for example, at the BAE HQ, I'm dedicating my efforts towards it, towards my dad. So everything now is so tied up with that deeper meaning that when things don't go well, right, everything's going well so far, touch wood, but if something doesn't go well, then it then has a much deeper effect that can then have quite major effects on my mental health.

Amardeep Parmar: But I'm at least aware enough to know that. And I'm trying to put the support system around me to do that. And one of the crazy things is that we've exercised. So I tore my knee in March in my meniscus, so I was doing physio at the time that my dad went into hospital and I stopped once he [00:21:00] went into hospital because I was in another hospital at the time.

Amardeep Parmar: I haven't really gone back to it yet and it's one of these crazy things of where I know that I should be going back to it. I know I should be doing more health stuff again and focus on my health, but it keeps dropping down because of all the toxic things I've got going on in terms of me making sure that I'm doing this or doing that and the pressure.

Amardeep Parmar: And I guess it's me calling myself out now, so that people listening and by the time this comes out, if you ask me, Oh, did you actually do what you said you're going to do? So hopefully, well, tomorrow I'm going to go to the gym and make sure I keep getting back into it again. And like, with what you're doing, and obviously you're so passionate about what you do, but to get up on stage or to get up on TV and talk about this.

Amardeep Parmar: Did you always have that confidence or where did that confidence come from to go to Sky News and talk about mental health or to make that impact you're making? Because there are many people maybe feel the same way as you, but they feel like, Oh, but I can't do that. I wouldn't be able to get up in the news.

Amardeep Parmar: I wouldn't be able to do this. How did you discover that in yourself? 

Lavina Mehta: Trust me, I had no confidence. Like I never thought, I mean, I [00:22:00] got an incredible buzz. I remember that first Sky News, you know, when they got me on and they were literally showing exercise snacks of like me and my husband dressed up in like Christmas outfits.

Lavina Mehta: It was so embarrassing, but that And the feedback, I think it's more the feedback that I got from people and the messages of support or like, okay, oh my God, this is a brilliant idea. I'm going to go off and it doesn't matter. Like, like you said, actually, I'm going to say to you don't need to go to the gym.

Lavina Mehta: You could even just do 10 minutes when you wake up, right? Just start off very small five minutes. So just like tomorrow, just you know, text me and let me know if you've done, you know, 10 press ups, 10 squats, like, just wake up, just build it into your daily routine. And that little five minutes will hopefully make you feel good.

Lavina Mehta: And then you'll kind of build on it. So don't put the pressure of like, Oh my God, I've got, I've committed to the Vino. I'm going to the gym for an hour. So going back to Sky News, it was more that, wow, I could just help so many people. Like, you know, there were thousands of people messaging me. And I thought, Oh my God, this is what I want to [00:23:00] do.

Lavina Mehta: You know, I just want to help people. So it was that little taster, which made me go live when gyms were shutting or where people were starting to feel a little bit weird, you know, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, it was like, I think it was March the 8th. If I remember correctly, before the lockdowns were even announced and my husband and I were at the gym and it was just getting emptier and emptier.

Lavina Mehta: And then I said to him, look, this is probably not right for us to come in here, let's start training from home. And I just had a wild idea. And I said, um, you know, my youngest son, Sahil was being homeschooled, but it was actually before that I said on the weekend, let's just go live. You know, I've opened up this Instagram account.

Lavina Mehta: I had about 800 followers and I've never ever done anything like it. So when you're asking, like, do you have to have that confidence? I didn't really have that self belief even to this day, you know, like us sitting here, this is all quite surreal, to be honest. And it's not about like, I've, I've had no media training, you know, formally when I went on

Lavina Mehta: Sky. I was just myself and I think hopefully that's [00:24:00] what I want people to relate to, especially moms that may have given up their career and you are kind of maybe thinking that I wanna do something for myself. Honestly, all I can say is just give it a shot. Don't overthink it. Start off small, you know, get that confidence.

Lavina Mehta: I actually went the other extreme and got onto Sky and it was quite big. But the Instagram lives again, I am, even though I was an IT project manager, I wasn't technical and I'd never ever done anything like a live on Instagram. And we did a 15 minute lunchtime exercise snack, which then became a daily thing.

Lavina Mehta: And it just grew. I mean, the response we got was insane. I didn't ever, ever think that I would just be in the garden, you know, playing with toilet roll games. And I was thinking of like football games. So it would get all members of the family. It was more, I said, I want to boost people's immune systems and I want them mentally to feel okay.

Lavina Mehta: Cause there's so much anxiety about the pandemic. People were worried about, you know, what was going on. And then we did an evening program every day, my [00:25:00] husband and son. So I have to thank them publicly for, you know, agreeing to even do those workouts and. It was amazing. It was also incredible to see, um, like my parents, you know, that are in their seventies, who could just about use a mobile phone, trying to log on to Instagram and join us for the workouts.

Lavina Mehta: Because I feel like there's been such a lack of education around the power of exercise in our own communities. Right. And so my mom would be the typical, I'm doing a lot Lavina, I'm always cooking and cleaning, you know, I don't need to exercise or I do a little bit of yoga. And I'm like, mom, you need to try and, um, start lifting weights, like not heavyweights, but just your body weight.

Lavina Mehta: And you need to be hitting your cardio goals, like for a consistent amount of time, whether it's five minutes or 10 minutes, but not just, I'm just cooking and cleaning and keeping busy. And so, yeah, then I started streaming on all platforms because I really wanted to get the older generation. I found that they, through the pandemic, I just felt were suffering so badly, you know, like being away from their loved ones, being isolated, the [00:26:00] loneliness.

Lavina Mehta: And that generation needed, I wanted to keep moving. So that's why I started the workouts with my mother in law, who again is amazing and was very camera shy and literally refused when I said, um, would you like to go on camera with me? It's only because we're Jain and I kind of said to mom that I think this will really help people.

Lavina Mehta: And, you know, obviously part of our Jain religion is all about helping people and, um, you know, giving back. And, you know, I knew she had those values. So, um, she's been a rock for me, you know, just doing these workouts, which I continue to do. So anyone listening, please join in yourselves because it's not just for seniors anymore.

Lavina Mehta: It's for all of us, you know, as we're sitting here watching this, I want you to be able to do some squats on the chair. I want you to just maybe do some stretches, some mobility exercises. We're all, you know, rounding our backs and on screens and like, you know, slouching away, but there's so much we can do even seated.

Lavina Mehta: So that's why going to workplaces, [00:27:00] but yeah, I want to encourage all ages to move. So we do our free sessions every Friday at 10 o'clock and they're all saved on YouTube. But I think the biggest breakthrough was when I got 70, 80, 90 year old Asian men as well as women and they regularly join me and you know, just the smiles and the engagement and the feedback that I get.

Lavina Mehta: And we talk about disease risk, you know, I've had so many messages from people where their cholesterol, their blood pressure's gone down, they've reversed their type two or pre diabetes, they're feeling stronger, their osteoporosis, their knee pain, all of that has gone, you know, like touch wood exercises, honestly, that magic pill alongside healthy eating, good sleep, you know, I'm also into gratitude and journaling, which I think we should all be doing, you know, just having those moments of breathing techniques as well, which is why I start my workouts with, I think there's a lot of things in lifestyle that we can bring in, but I want to bring them in easily.

Lavina Mehta: So I [00:28:00] do little snacks for everything just to get people started and hopefully enjoy it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it's so incredible what you've done already and like how many people you've helped and it's changing the attitudes, right? And getting people who traditionally might not exercise and might not look after themselves to start doing that.

Amardeep Parmar:  But I want to encourage everybody comes on this, keep dreaming and keep looking forward of like more impact they can make. It's being content with what you've done so far, but also knowing, like, having that excitement about what the future is. So what are you excited about right now? What are you excited about that you're working on or impact you're making or impact that you want to make in the future?

Lavina Mehta: I'm just super excited that, you know, I'm blessed that I'm in this position. I hope it helps inspire, like you said, anyone that's got that little inkling or that little passion. You know, you don't know where it's going to take you. I honestly didn't think I'd be here today. I am very excited about topics that I'm, you know, bringing to the forefront of discussions like the menopause, which again, is another taboo subject.

Lavina Mehta: And it's only because I broke [00:29:00] down in tears on Instagram and realized that I was perimenopausal or after seeing, you know, this powerful documentary and the links that it has with our long term health with things like our brain health, bone health and heart health. So again, I was very open and I guess it's, you know, it's a word that even in our communities to this day, I have people DMing me all the time where they don't understand what perimenopause or menopause is.

Lavina Mehta: Basically, I'm very excited about embracing all these opportunities. You know, like even me being here today, thank you so much for inviting me. ‘Cause if it just helps one person or if it gets one person moving, or even if it just changes your mindset around exercise that it doesn't have to be difficult.

Lavina Mehta: It doesn't have to be long. I want to break those barriers of cost, time and motivation. Like I've got free workouts out there. You don't have to have an expensive gym membership. We use plastic bottles and tins. You'll see on my workouts, you know, you can do stuff from home so easily. But find something that you enjoy.

Lavina Mehta: [00:30:00] And if you're ever down, you know, like even what I say, you'll see daily. I go on my feel good walks. It's literally just five minutes can be what you need. If you're feeling anxious or stressed in your day, or if you just want that boost of productivity, just go and maybe, if you can, look at nature and just go out in the fresh air.

Lavina Mehta: Wrap up and just go, because I guarantee it will make you feel good. 

Amardeep Parmar: So for the people  who are inspired by the impact you've made, what advice would you give them to try and make an impact in whatever area they want to  make an impact in?

Lavina Mehta: I would just say life is too short and just go for it, you know, like don't hold back.

Lavina Mehta: Don't overthink it. Try and You know, have that belief in yourself and you know, you may not resonate. I'm extremely real on social media. There's no filters. I don't have the highest quality sound and production. I literally just go live, you know, like with my mother in law, I just do my own little reels.

Lavina Mehta: I don't have an agent. I don't have management. It's me, myself and I, but. Um, find [00:31:00] something that you enjoy and that you're passionate about and hopefully that passion will come out and I think for me giving back, you know, the charity work that I do with numerous charities like Diabetes UK, Alzheimer's Society, Brain Tumor Research, you know, like on BAPS, the Neeson Temple, like all these community groups, it's a great way to give back.

Lavina Mehta: Just getting that feedback. Sometimes I never realized the power of giving back and that's like kind of my focus now is just trying to help just that one person. It's not about numbers for me. You know, I'm too old for social media in a way. I'm not the average 20 something year old personal trainer. So I hope it breaks the taboos and the self doubt that people can have.

Lavina Mehta: And life's too short. Like I said, just live it, go for it, believe in yourself. 

Amardeep Parmar: I love  everything you just said there, but we're going to need to move on to the quick five questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians you'd like to shout out that people listening right now should be paying attention to and they should [00:32:00] be following?

Lavina Mehta: Very hard. You said no family members. Obviously my mom. No, I'm joking. So three women I would like to spotlight. One of them is Shweta Aggarwal and I'm actually hosting her book launch, which is all about her personal journey and memoirs of colorism and how it's really affected her. She's written an amazing book called The Black Roseway.

Lavina Mehta: So please follow Shweta. She's an incredible gym buddy of mine. We actually met in the gym. Another one. is Heeral Shah, who is very high up at Barclays, but what I think is so inspiring is the fact that she's brought diversity to Barclays and she's really started off this whole Asian professional network within Barclays.

Lavina Mehta: And it's just great to see a mom of two, you know, having my old corporate hat on, but she's also now been able to carry on with her career and inspire Asians, you know, in a company like Barclays. Um, she's also one of my best friends and so she's been with me [00:33:00] through thick and thin. So I love her all.

Lavina Mehta: Um, and thirdly, um, is Meenal Sachdev, who I know you've had her sister Mira on the podcast. I'm very angry at Mira because you're not allowed to say family members. Um, so another shout out for Meenal Sachdev, who is a local councilor, but her work on anti trafficking, anti slavery, on poverty, on giving back.

Lavina Mehta: I mean, she is the most selfless, most giving soul I know. And you know, my best friend, love her to bits, um, but I think she's very inspiring in the world of politics and, um, in terms of giving back as well. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you mentioned your mom's got a book out as well, right? So if your mom is a public figure, then you can give her a shout out too.

Lavina Mehta: Yay. Okay. I'm going to give you her book in a minute. We better put that on one of our photos. Yeah. So my mom, Kumud Shah, is my inspiration. It's her book, Feel Good With Food, that we self published that created the Feel Good. Brand that hopefully feel good with, with Lavinia will continue her books, her [00:34:00] legacy.

Lavina Mehta: And, um, yeah, she's just, I think been my champion and she inspires me every day with her brain, her knowledge and her passion as well.

Amardeep Parmar: So if people are listening right now want to reach out to you for guidance or for help, what can they reach you about?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, if you want any inspiration, I guess, on health and wellness, um, I post a lot about my own perimenopausal journey, um, about simple tools that we can use in our day to day lives, exercise snacks and longer chair workouts, workplace wellness as well. So yeah, please reach out, have a look at all my social media.

Lavina Mehta: Hopefully there's a lot of content there and a lot of free workouts as well. And I do have my Facebook community as well, which is, you know, like saved workouts that women can have a proper community and use online. So I'm trying to make it very accessible. If you're thinking about exercising and just jump on my page and even try one of my exercise snacks out.

Amardeep Parmar: And then  on the other side, what's something that you need help with right now? What's something that maybe somebody [00:35:00] in the audience could help you with? 

Lavina Mehta: So what I would love help with is, um, actually sharing my workouts. So if you could just tell one person, whether it's your sibling or your parent or your grandparent, there is no age barrier.

Lavina Mehta: There's no ability barrier to my workouts. They've gone up to the age of a hundred. Um, please just tell someone to join in so that, that way I can continue my mission to help. As many people feel good as possible. 

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience? 

Lavina Mehta: No, I think, you know, what you guys are doing at the Bay HQ is incredible.

Lavina Mehta: I'm very much about our community lifting each other. There is space and there's room for everyone. We're all different. I think the more support we can give each other, the better. So really thank you all for listening and thank you for having me on.

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you for listening to the BAE HQ podcast today and our mission to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs. [00:36:00] But it means so much to us. If you could subscribe to our channel, leave a review and share this with your friends.

Lavina Mehta: [00:00:00] Exercise for sanity, not vanity. 

Amardeep Parmar: Love that.

Lavina Mehta: My  crazy idea for the exercise snacks that then got picked up by Sky News, it's all about how effective that even five minutes, even a minute, every time you exercise, your metabolism is improving. Even when I post my own and my husband's transformation, I get the most likes and the most comments, but I'm trying to show you that exercise is going to help you feel good mentally.

Lavina Mehta: And it's going to help reduce, you know, all these chronic illnesses. I want to break those barriers of cost, time and motivation. Just give it a shot. Don't overthink it.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ podcast, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs. Today we have with us Lavinia Mehta, MBE, who's a personal trainer, wellness coach, and mom of three. She also won an MBE for her services to health and fitness during the pandemic. How are you doing today?

Amardeep Parmar: I'm good. Thanks for having me here.

Amardeep Parmar: You're more than [00:01:00] welcome. So your story's been really inspiring to so many people and obviously the queen at the time recognized that. Where did this all start from? Like, did you ever believe that you'd be where you are today and you'd be making the impact you're making in the health and fitness space when you're growing up?

Lavina Mehta: Big no. A, I wasn't sporty when I was younger. I only got into my own fitness journey in my thirties. So I am now 44, full disclosure here. 

Amardeep Parmar: You don't look a day 21. 

Lavina Mehta:  Thank you. So literally I wasn't into school sports. I just kind of tick the boxes, fell in love with strength training when I left my corporate career.

Lavina Mehta: So after having our third boy, Sahil, who's now 15 and got in love with the gym, but only when I got in my head around getting my own personal trainer and fell in love with what it not only did for me physically, because I did have quite a lot of weight to shed and you can scroll down really far down my Instagram to look at my before and afters.

Lavina Mehta: I don't post them often. ‘Cause it's not just about how we look. Obviously I had been through pregnancy. So I'd put on the way I was probably [00:02:00] twice the size that I am now, but it was more what it did for my mind. And, um, yeah, in short, I never ever imagined like let alone being a personal trainer, which is not very typical for an Asian woman, although it's, I think it's becoming quite on trend in, in the future which is great.

Lavina Mehta: To help inspire, you know, anyone that wants to go down this route, but yeah, I, I studied management. So I was in the corporate world and I guess I was doing, you know, like most Asian parents wanted their daughter to go into a, a good career and settle down and have a family. And this has just been my passion.

Lavina Mehta: And it's obviously been an incredible couple of years, but really surreal even now talking about it. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you think stopped you from being like sporty or into fitness when you were younger? Was it a mental thing or what, what kind of prevented you? Is it just something you didn't know that you enjoyed yet?

Lavina Mehta: I mean, I like team sports.

Lavina Mehta: So I did netball and lacrosse. I hated swimming because the school that I was in, we had to go into an outdoor swimming pool in the UK. So you can imagine me trying to, you know, write, get my [00:03:00] mom to write notes. I was always unable to attend those lessons. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I would never say that I chose to do it out of school.

Lavina Mehta: I did things like dance. I did Ghatak, which is like an, you know, an Indian traditional form of dance. I love my music. I loved art. Art was actually the career that I wanted to go down. So I did art A level, and when I asked my parents if I could go to Central St. Martin School of Art and then kind of discover what you know, career would then go from this one year foundation.

Lavina Mehta: My mom has always been very supportive and she has led a similar path where she found cooking. So she's a cookery writer and an author and she found her joy when my brother and I had kind of gone into independent, like, secondary schools. So around the age of  11, she found her own path, which is what I've kind of done with my boys.

Lavina Mehta: And so mom always encouraged me to paint, but more as a hobby. And so I studied management at university. I would say I think it's more [00:04:00] that I was never really into the gym. I had free access to um, an amazing corporate gym when I was working in the city and I would go to the odd class but there was never, you know, that kind of passion and I didn't really fall in love with it.

Lavina Mehta: It was more that I should just do something for my health. 

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned there about your corporate gym and your corporate career because obviously before you were even doing this, you had a very good corporate career and you did work your way up and you then like gave up later on. And how did that change you as a person, I guess, because you obviously, you had this mindset of like, you're a BP, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And there was very few people like you doing what you were doing and rising up the ranks. And what was that decision like to then step away from that?

Lavina Mehta: Really hard. I loved what I did. I would say actually the career that I had, you know, after university was kind of, I think comparable now when I'm writing and sharing my story to the last few years, because I started off just with a dot.com company.

Lavina Mehta: I don't know if you remember boo.com and obviously the platform now is boohoo. com, but I'd [00:05:00] done a thesis at, uh, Umist, in Manchester where I’m studying about internet e-retailing which is really unheard of. Like no one can ever imagine buying clothing on the internet. I got, you know, a fantastic lecturer at UMIST. I feel like I've met these incredible people that have really shaped my journey, like almost angels sent, you know, to kind of guide me on this path.

Lavina Mehta: And I got an amazing job. job at this, um, really small startup called boo.com that went boom to bust in nine months. I started off as like a testing man, you know, tester for their website and then I got to a testing manager. I got to a project manager all in the space of nine months. And that is what kickstarted my career great position where people were looking for people with dot com experience.

Lavina Mehta: And then I joined another company in Silicon Valley. I traveled a lot. I was in New York for a few months, so I was really embracing my career. I then became a mom and met my amazing husband. And I fought to go part time, [00:06:00] especially with my older two boys. ‘Cause I was commuting, you know, an hour and a half from Pinner to Canary Wharf, and then the demands of my role was such that I would be called in the middle of the night.

Lavina Mehta: So I managed all their intranet and extranet web hosting. So any, anything that went down at BP, I would get called and I had to make the call when I felt pregnant with  Sahil to give it up and it was very, very difficult. I have no regrets, because especially because I was South Asian. I was young. I was actually managing teams that were all white and they were predominantly all male.

Lavina Mehta: So looking back on that now is, you know, it's obviously given me great experience. Yeah, it was a hard decision, but I got to, you know, the kind of level that I wanted to, which was great. Now, I'm so glad to see that, you know, moms. and working mothers, females and males are offered, you know, so much more inflexible working and obviously the pandemic has changed the way we work anyway.

Lavina Mehta: So yeah, no regrets, but I did love every minute of my career, [00:07:00] but I feel it was, it served its purpose. It's given me such a good foundation and that's why I do a lot of workplace wellness because I love going back into companies and you know, now it's to try and keep people fit and healthy, like physically, mentally.

Amardeep Parmar: And it's one of those things where I think sometimes people forget is that. The big corporates have such a huge responsibility as well, right? If you've got 100, 000 employees or 200, 000, like something like BP or the big four, then bringing people like you on board to try and help those employees can actually make a really big difference because people sometimes think it's gotta be from the government, but then also the employers have got this access to so many people and also the resources where they can help too.

Amardeep Parmar: What got you into that side of things? I'm right in thinking it was first of all, you became a PT after your journey after you like trying to lose your pregnancy weight and then getting fitter. And then after that, where did it go from there?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, so I joined the gym when my youngest son, my older two had got into their schools.

Lavina Mehta: Youngest son had just started kindergarten. I just joined the gym. A, because I had a health scare when I was in my late 20s. So something that I have gone on Sky News [00:08:00] to talk about very openly. Another big taboo, you know, things that us, especially Asian communities don't talk about is where I found that I had some mild dyskaryosis.

Lavina Mehta: So it's some cell changes from a smear test. And obviously smear tests are things that women hate doing and we don't often talk about. So I raised a lot of awareness at the beginning, like about that, but that little health scare then kind of got me in to thinking I need to do something for myself. And I joined the gym, was jumping around classes.

Lavina Mehta: Then, like I said, I got my own personal trainer. I'd never ever lifted weights. I think it's empowering, but it's just that way that when I was lifting those weights, it made me feel strong body and mind. And it just kind of takes you away from all the noise outside, like any of your worries. I just love being, it's almost that flow state that people talk about.

Lavina Mehta: And I fell in love with what it was doing. I lost my father in law who was you know, like literally like my gem, he would be sitting, you know, right here with me right now. He's, [00:09:00] he was like my angel, you know, like he helped me bring the kids up so much. The whole family did, but I had a very special bond with my father in law and he got diagnosed with a brain tumor very quickly.

Lavina Mehta: So we lost him within six months. When my father in law was deteriorating so quickly, it was actually the gym that was my sanity. I then just decided, okay, let me just do some learning. I'd help. My mom actually print and publish her second book, which is called feel good with food, which is where the feel good brand comes from.

Lavina Mehta: And I typed it, you know, like I was heavily pregnant. We did all the photography, learn a lot about antioxidants and the power of food. So it's all about the science behind you know what we eat and why we eat it. She's a biological scientist. So the nutrition side, I'd already started learning a lot from my mom.

Lavina Mehta: And then I was like, this is incredible. Like what the gym is actually doing, especially through, you know, such a hard life experience after losing my father in law that I didn't tell anyone. And I did tell my husband and my kids that I [00:10:00] wanted to do a home study course. And it was literally just for my own benefit, like not

Lavina Mehta: ever, ever thinking it would be anything like a career. And in the evenings when the kids went to bed, I was, um, basically doing biology, like a level again. So level two was my fitness instructing and learning about physiology, anatomy, and the science behind exercise, which is what really excites me. And then I just carried on.

Lavina Mehta: I was like, this is amazing. I'm loving this. Did level three again, didn't tell anyone. And then when I started telling a few friends, they were like, oh, Lavina, can you train us? And I actually was very blessed. We had a little home gym in our basement. I was like, okay, I'll just take a couple of friends on, you know, like to see how it goes.

Lavina Mehta: And it was incredible that not only did I get a huge demand, because I guess, you know, it's very different coming to just to me one to one in our own space, you know, in sort of in my home rather than a big public gym, which can be quite intimidating. Um, [00:11:00] but I was starting to see incredible results. And I had women like from the age of 30 to 70, all different goals, not just weight loss.

Lavina Mehta: You know, some were just coming, the older ones had things like osteoporosis or diabetes or they'd had operations injuries. I had moms that were trying to lose, you know, the weight. I had some that were going through menopause at the time, and I just loved it. I was literally dropping the kids off and I was just cramming my day with as many clients as I could, getting incredible results.

Lavina Mehta: So as an ex project manager, I was really thorough about like structured plans, very personalized, really on it. It was just that satisfaction of seeing someone, you know, maybe coming in in the first, at the beginning of the session, feeling really down and upset or whatever's going on in their lives, which we all have so much going on in our lives.

Lavina Mehta: Like social media is another whole topic we can touch on, but I really feel like that kind of feeling before a workout or a session [00:12:00] and then seeing them leave, you know, where the endorphins are released and they're feeling good and they're feeling more positive and just the smile. It was just so satisfying.

Lavina Mehta: And then obviously the results were incredible. So those that needed to lose weight were hitting their goals. Some women were just getting so strong. everything in their lives, like not just how they looked and how they felt, but even their relationships, you know, maybe at work, maybe with their kids, maybe with their mother in laws, you know, like it's just kind of, I got so much satisfaction.

Lavina Mehta: I had a huge demand, huge waiting list, which I was very blessed to have. And, um, I actually launched my own online app. Um, during that period, it was very new and I got things set up, you know, for online training. and never really invested into it fully. And it was just when the pandemic hit that I had just prior to that got onto Sky News quite a few times.

Amardeep Parmar: So it's incredible to see like how, where you came from, where you got to, and like what you continue to do. And first of all, I just want to say [00:13:00] about your father in law and with your mother as well, about the support you had from your family. And like how nice it is to see, because obviously with my own story and my own dad, then that's meant a lot to me.

Amardeep Parmar: And I know that's a big reason why I've got to where I have got to today. But I also loved you talked about with exercise, not just about weight loss, because that's what I was asking you at the beginning, because I knew that initially some of the motivation was about weight loss after the pregnancy, but then you discovered so much more about mindset and how much more it was helping you.

Amardeep Parmar: And you're saying about how you've helped people who came into the train and they were feeling depressed and how at the end of the session, they're feeling so much happier. And that's the kind of side of things which sometimes. I think especially in still South Asian communities where we don't appreciate it enough, sometimes people think, are you going to the gym to look good?

Amardeep Parmar: And it doesn't have to be like that at all, right? It can make your day feel better. It can, it can just give you that sense of achievement sometimes, or the like overload and going a little bit further each day. I want to also bring you back to where you said you start off just a few friends in the basement because sometimes, I don't know people listening, they plan forever because they want to start with such a huge bang, but you don't [00:14:00] need to do that, right?

Amardeep Parmar: You can start with a few friends in your basement and you can start with a few customers. Test the product out. See if you enjoy doing it because you might've taken the course because you just took it for your knowledge, right? You're not taking it for your own knowledge. Like the information, but not really like teaching it.

Amardeep Parmar: And there's nothing bad about that. It's just different personalities and what suits you, but by doing it, your friends first, you could like test out, get your program in place, work out what you're like doing. So that when you do more customers in the future, then it's not as nerve wracking, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because you've already, you've already done those, like got that experience in there. And moving on to the online app now, you mentioned too many interesting things. And so I'm proud of myself remembering all of that with the online app, where did that come about from? Because obviously that's a way to scale the information you've got rather than just having when you work with people one on one, you make such a transformation, but so many people can benefit from your ideas and what you're doing.

Amardeep Parmar: So where did that online  app come from?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, I mean, it was good because actually it was a tool that I found and I was thinking, you know, even when I go into the gym, you kind of go into the gym, there's so many machines, [00:15:00] people just head straight for the cardio, whereas I'm trying to get them to lift weights because honestly, if you do want to lose weight, uh, lifting  weights is,

Lavina Mehta: I would say more effective than cardio. So not only are you retaining and building your muscle mass, the more muscle mass you have at rest, your body is going to continuously burn calories. So it's going to really help if you've got weight loss goals and being South Asian, obviously being in a good, normal weight range is important just because of our risk factors.

Lavina Mehta: We're so disproportionately affected by things like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, you know, the list goes on, unfortunately, just in our communities, right? I'm sure you've got members of the family, friends, you know, that have got diabetes. So hence I'm now a diabetes UK ambassador, cause you can hear I'm very passionate about this, but yeah, the app was actually a flute.

Lavina Mehta: I would say it was more that when I went into the gym, I wanted to, you know, people have the carry notebooks. I wanted to log my workouts and I was getting stronger and you know, [00:16:00] it is little old me, but even now, you know, I get a buzz out of my like 70 kg dead lifts or my hundred KG Glute Bridges. It's not that I'm saying lift heavy, but I wanted to track my progress being my ex project manager probably as well.

Lavina Mehta: So I did find a great tool and I developed my own app and I started giving it to some of my regular clients. I was like, you know, now I want you to feel confident. It doesn't mean that. I just want you to keep coming to me because a, I'm a mom of three and I'm squeezing you in and I know you want to come, you know, maybe two or three times, but I want you to have the confidence to go and train on your own.

Lavina Mehta: So follow this plan, log it all, we can track your progress and you can log your food. You can log your weight, your measurements, your progress pictures, all that kind of fun stuff on this one tool. And obviously now, I mean, the pandemic has changed the health and fitness industry so much that now, you know, you see an influx of online PTs, online content, online apps.

Lavina Mehta: So it was really, I would say [00:17:00] quite fluky that I, you know, sort of generated this and it was ready for the future of fitness. But what I did, you know, obviously when the pandemic hit was totally out of my comfort zone. So what you're saying about sometimes don't overthink it, you know, don't worry too much and don't plan too much because I would honestly say hand on heart that everything that's happened in my journey has

Lavina Mehta: been without that sort of planning. It's just been going with the gut. And sometimes I go for walks. I call them feel good walks. ‘Cause that's where I got my crazy idea for the exercise snacks that then got picked up by Sky News featured on Sky News, which then called..

Amardeep Parmar:  Tell us more about exercise snacking.

Lavina Mehta: Yeah. So exercise snacking is my lovely concept-  Is not having a jalebi or a samosa while we're exercising. It's all about short, bite sized amounts of movement. And I went back to the science of exercise and I was thinking, you know, sometimes we're all leading such busy lives. You know, I'm a mom. I've got obligations with the family, with the kids, the house.

Lavina Mehta: I'm starting this new career [00:18:00] path. I may not have time to go into a gym. For 60 minutes or an hour and the science behind exercise snacking is quite amazing. It's all about how effective that even five minutes, even a minute, you know, like over the age of 60 with the workouts I now do for seniors, it's even a minute is better than nothing.

Lavina Mehta: And every time you exercise, your metabolism is actually improving. So it can all add up to try and hit the government guidelines, which is what I really want people to hit to help reduce our risks of chronic illnesses, you know, from everything from cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, the science.

Lavina Mehta: You can hear the passion I really have is the magic that exercise does beyond how we look. And that's why I say mental health is so important, especially in our communities. It's not talked about, you know, I read about the terrible rates, you know, of suicide for Asian men and that pressure, you know, that especially Asian men have, and they put on [00:19:00] themselves from external cultural family pressures.

Lavina Mehta: It's so hard and so sad for me to see that people aren't opening up. And I think it's changing. So I've been trying to obviously last few years. Raise a lot about breaking these taboos and get people to talk, but the mental health benefits, that's why I say exercise for sanity, not vanity has been my slogan throughout

Amardeep Parmar: Love that.

Lavina Mehta:  And you won't see, unfortunately, a lot of transformation pictures on my Instagram.

Lavina Mehta: You can go to my website and you'll see all my old one to one clients. And if that's what, you know, gets you excited, have a look at them. Even when I post my own and my husband's transformation, you know, I get the most likes and the most comments. But I'm trying to show you that exercise is going to help you not just look good, but feel good mentally.

Lavina Mehta: And it's going to help reduce, you know, all these chronic illnesses that we're so disproportionately affected by in our communities. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's on the mental health point now, obviously, with what I've been through recently and my, my dad, it's the whole community side of things where, [00:20:00] at my dad's funeral, so many people came up to me and said, Oh, so you know, you're the man of the house and I need to look after everybody.

Amardeep Parmar: It's like, is that really helpful? Like, is that actually helping me? Or is that like, I know they're obviously coming from a good place. I want me to make sure that I'm like helping my mom and my sisters. But it's like, what do you think that does to me? Obviously I'm already putting a lot of pressure on myself.

Amardeep Parmar: Right. And even now, like, I'm self aware enough to know what I'm doing. Even for example, at the BAE HQ, I'm dedicating my efforts towards it, towards my dad. So everything now is so tied up with that deeper meaning that when things don't go well, right, everything's going well so far, touch wood, but if something doesn't go well, then it then has a much deeper effect that can then have quite major effects on my mental health.

Amardeep Parmar: But I'm at least aware enough to know that. And I'm trying to put the support system around me to do that. And one of the crazy things is that we've exercised. So I tore my knee in March in my meniscus, so I was doing physio at the time that my dad went into hospital and I stopped once he [00:21:00] went into hospital because I was in another hospital at the time.

Amardeep Parmar: I haven't really gone back to it yet and it's one of these crazy things of where I know that I should be going back to it. I know I should be doing more health stuff again and focus on my health, but it keeps dropping down because of all the toxic things I've got going on in terms of me making sure that I'm doing this or doing that and the pressure.

Amardeep Parmar: And I guess it's me calling myself out now, so that people listening and by the time this comes out, if you ask me, Oh, did you actually do what you said you're going to do? So hopefully, well, tomorrow I'm going to go to the gym and make sure I keep getting back into it again. And like, with what you're doing, and obviously you're so passionate about what you do, but to get up on stage or to get up on TV and talk about this.

Amardeep Parmar: Did you always have that confidence or where did that confidence come from to go to Sky News and talk about mental health or to make that impact you're making? Because there are many people maybe feel the same way as you, but they feel like, Oh, but I can't do that. I wouldn't be able to get up in the news.

Amardeep Parmar: I wouldn't be able to do this. How did you discover that in yourself? 

Lavina Mehta: Trust me, I had no confidence. Like I never thought, I mean, I [00:22:00] got an incredible buzz. I remember that first Sky News, you know, when they got me on and they were literally showing exercise snacks of like me and my husband dressed up in like Christmas outfits.

Lavina Mehta: It was so embarrassing, but that And the feedback, I think it's more the feedback that I got from people and the messages of support or like, okay, oh my God, this is a brilliant idea. I'm going to go off and it doesn't matter. Like, like you said, actually, I'm going to say to you don't need to go to the gym.

Lavina Mehta: You could even just do 10 minutes when you wake up, right? Just start off very small five minutes. So just like tomorrow, just you know, text me and let me know if you've done, you know, 10 press ups, 10 squats, like, just wake up, just build it into your daily routine. And that little five minutes will hopefully make you feel good.

Lavina Mehta: And then you'll kind of build on it. So don't put the pressure of like, Oh my God, I've got, I've committed to the Vino. I'm going to the gym for an hour. So going back to Sky News, it was more that, wow, I could just help so many people. Like, you know, there were thousands of people messaging me. And I thought, Oh my God, this is what I want to [00:23:00] do.

Lavina Mehta: You know, I just want to help people. So it was that little taster, which made me go live when gyms were shutting or where people were starting to feel a little bit weird, you know, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, it was like, I think it was March the 8th. If I remember correctly, before the lockdowns were even announced and my husband and I were at the gym and it was just getting emptier and emptier.

Lavina Mehta: And then I said to him, look, this is probably not right for us to come in here, let's start training from home. And I just had a wild idea. And I said, um, you know, my youngest son, Sahil was being homeschooled, but it was actually before that I said on the weekend, let's just go live. You know, I've opened up this Instagram account.

Lavina Mehta: I had about 800 followers and I've never ever done anything like it. So when you're asking, like, do you have to have that confidence? I didn't really have that self belief even to this day, you know, like us sitting here, this is all quite surreal, to be honest. And it's not about like, I've, I've had no media training, you know, formally when I went on

Lavina Mehta: Sky. I was just myself and I think hopefully that's [00:24:00] what I want people to relate to, especially moms that may have given up their career and you are kind of maybe thinking that I wanna do something for myself. Honestly, all I can say is just give it a shot. Don't overthink it. Start off small, you know, get that confidence.

Lavina Mehta: I actually went the other extreme and got onto Sky and it was quite big. But the Instagram lives again, I am, even though I was an IT project manager, I wasn't technical and I'd never ever done anything like a live on Instagram. And we did a 15 minute lunchtime exercise snack, which then became a daily thing.

Lavina Mehta: And it just grew. I mean, the response we got was insane. I didn't ever, ever think that I would just be in the garden, you know, playing with toilet roll games. And I was thinking of like football games. So it would get all members of the family. It was more, I said, I want to boost people's immune systems and I want them mentally to feel okay.

Lavina Mehta: Cause there's so much anxiety about the pandemic. People were worried about, you know, what was going on. And then we did an evening program every day, my [00:25:00] husband and son. So I have to thank them publicly for, you know, agreeing to even do those workouts and. It was amazing. It was also incredible to see, um, like my parents, you know, that are in their seventies, who could just about use a mobile phone, trying to log on to Instagram and join us for the workouts.

Lavina Mehta: Because I feel like there's been such a lack of education around the power of exercise in our own communities. Right. And so my mom would be the typical, I'm doing a lot Lavina, I'm always cooking and cleaning, you know, I don't need to exercise or I do a little bit of yoga. And I'm like, mom, you need to try and, um, start lifting weights, like not heavyweights, but just your body weight.

Lavina Mehta: And you need to be hitting your cardio goals, like for a consistent amount of time, whether it's five minutes or 10 minutes, but not just, I'm just cooking and cleaning and keeping busy. And so, yeah, then I started streaming on all platforms because I really wanted to get the older generation. I found that they, through the pandemic, I just felt were suffering so badly, you know, like being away from their loved ones, being isolated, the [00:26:00] loneliness.

Lavina Mehta: And that generation needed, I wanted to keep moving. So that's why I started the workouts with my mother in law, who again is amazing and was very camera shy and literally refused when I said, um, would you like to go on camera with me? It's only because we're Jain and I kind of said to mom that I think this will really help people.

Lavina Mehta: And, you know, obviously part of our Jain religion is all about helping people and, um, you know, giving back. And, you know, I knew she had those values. So, um, she's been a rock for me, you know, just doing these workouts, which I continue to do. So anyone listening, please join in yourselves because it's not just for seniors anymore.

Lavina Mehta: It's for all of us, you know, as we're sitting here watching this, I want you to be able to do some squats on the chair. I want you to just maybe do some stretches, some mobility exercises. We're all, you know, rounding our backs and on screens and like, you know, slouching away, but there's so much we can do even seated.

Lavina Mehta: So that's why going to workplaces, [00:27:00] but yeah, I want to encourage all ages to move. So we do our free sessions every Friday at 10 o'clock and they're all saved on YouTube. But I think the biggest breakthrough was when I got 70, 80, 90 year old Asian men as well as women and they regularly join me and you know, just the smiles and the engagement and the feedback that I get.

Lavina Mehta: And we talk about disease risk, you know, I've had so many messages from people where their cholesterol, their blood pressure's gone down, they've reversed their type two or pre diabetes, they're feeling stronger, their osteoporosis, their knee pain, all of that has gone, you know, like touch wood exercises, honestly, that magic pill alongside healthy eating, good sleep, you know, I'm also into gratitude and journaling, which I think we should all be doing, you know, just having those moments of breathing techniques as well, which is why I start my workouts with, I think there's a lot of things in lifestyle that we can bring in, but I want to bring them in easily.

Lavina Mehta: So I [00:28:00] do little snacks for everything just to get people started and hopefully enjoy it. 

Amardeep Parmar: So it's so incredible what you've done already and like how many people you've helped and it's changing the attitudes, right? And getting people who traditionally might not exercise and might not look after themselves to start doing that.

Amardeep Parmar:  But I want to encourage everybody comes on this, keep dreaming and keep looking forward of like more impact they can make. It's being content with what you've done so far, but also knowing, like, having that excitement about what the future is. So what are you excited about right now? What are you excited about that you're working on or impact you're making or impact that you want to make in the future?

Lavina Mehta: I'm just super excited that, you know, I'm blessed that I'm in this position. I hope it helps inspire, like you said, anyone that's got that little inkling or that little passion. You know, you don't know where it's going to take you. I honestly didn't think I'd be here today. I am very excited about topics that I'm, you know, bringing to the forefront of discussions like the menopause, which again, is another taboo subject.

Lavina Mehta: And it's only because I broke [00:29:00] down in tears on Instagram and realized that I was perimenopausal or after seeing, you know, this powerful documentary and the links that it has with our long term health with things like our brain health, bone health and heart health. So again, I was very open and I guess it's, you know, it's a word that even in our communities to this day, I have people DMing me all the time where they don't understand what perimenopause or menopause is.

Lavina Mehta: Basically, I'm very excited about embracing all these opportunities. You know, like even me being here today, thank you so much for inviting me. ‘Cause if it just helps one person or if it gets one person moving, or even if it just changes your mindset around exercise that it doesn't have to be difficult.

Lavina Mehta: It doesn't have to be long. I want to break those barriers of cost, time and motivation. Like I've got free workouts out there. You don't have to have an expensive gym membership. We use plastic bottles and tins. You'll see on my workouts, you know, you can do stuff from home so easily. But find something that you enjoy.

Lavina Mehta: [00:30:00] And if you're ever down, you know, like even what I say, you'll see daily. I go on my feel good walks. It's literally just five minutes can be what you need. If you're feeling anxious or stressed in your day, or if you just want that boost of productivity, just go and maybe, if you can, look at nature and just go out in the fresh air.

Lavina Mehta: Wrap up and just go, because I guarantee it will make you feel good. 

Amardeep Parmar: So for the people  who are inspired by the impact you've made, what advice would you give them to try and make an impact in whatever area they want to  make an impact in?

Lavina Mehta: I would just say life is too short and just go for it, you know, like don't hold back.

Lavina Mehta: Don't overthink it. Try and You know, have that belief in yourself and you know, you may not resonate. I'm extremely real on social media. There's no filters. I don't have the highest quality sound and production. I literally just go live, you know, like with my mother in law, I just do my own little reels.

Lavina Mehta: I don't have an agent. I don't have management. It's me, myself and I, but. Um, find [00:31:00] something that you enjoy and that you're passionate about and hopefully that passion will come out and I think for me giving back, you know, the charity work that I do with numerous charities like Diabetes UK, Alzheimer's Society, Brain Tumor Research, you know, like on BAPS, the Neeson Temple, like all these community groups, it's a great way to give back.

Lavina Mehta: Just getting that feedback. Sometimes I never realized the power of giving back and that's like kind of my focus now is just trying to help just that one person. It's not about numbers for me. You know, I'm too old for social media in a way. I'm not the average 20 something year old personal trainer. So I hope it breaks the taboos and the self doubt that people can have.

Lavina Mehta: And life's too short. Like I said, just live it, go for it, believe in yourself. 

Amardeep Parmar: I love  everything you just said there, but we're going to need to move on to the quick five questions now. So the first one is, who are three British Asians you'd like to shout out that people listening right now should be paying attention to and they should [00:32:00] be following?

Lavina Mehta: Very hard. You said no family members. Obviously my mom. No, I'm joking. So three women I would like to spotlight. One of them is Shweta Aggarwal and I'm actually hosting her book launch, which is all about her personal journey and memoirs of colorism and how it's really affected her. She's written an amazing book called The Black Roseway.

Lavina Mehta: So please follow Shweta. She's an incredible gym buddy of mine. We actually met in the gym. Another one. is Heeral Shah, who is very high up at Barclays, but what I think is so inspiring is the fact that she's brought diversity to Barclays and she's really started off this whole Asian professional network within Barclays.

Lavina Mehta: And it's just great to see a mom of two, you know, having my old corporate hat on, but she's also now been able to carry on with her career and inspire Asians, you know, in a company like Barclays. Um, she's also one of my best friends and so she's been with me [00:33:00] through thick and thin. So I love her all.

Lavina Mehta: Um, and thirdly, um, is Meenal Sachdev, who I know you've had her sister Mira on the podcast. I'm very angry at Mira because you're not allowed to say family members. Um, so another shout out for Meenal Sachdev, who is a local councilor, but her work on anti trafficking, anti slavery, on poverty, on giving back.

Lavina Mehta: I mean, she is the most selfless, most giving soul I know. And you know, my best friend, love her to bits, um, but I think she's very inspiring in the world of politics and, um, in terms of giving back as well. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you mentioned your mom's got a book out as well, right? So if your mom is a public figure, then you can give her a shout out too.

Lavina Mehta: Yay. Okay. I'm going to give you her book in a minute. We better put that on one of our photos. Yeah. So my mom, Kumud Shah, is my inspiration. It's her book, Feel Good With Food, that we self published that created the Feel Good. Brand that hopefully feel good with, with Lavinia will continue her books, her [00:34:00] legacy.

Lavina Mehta: And, um, yeah, she's just, I think been my champion and she inspires me every day with her brain, her knowledge and her passion as well.

Amardeep Parmar: So if people are listening right now want to reach out to you for guidance or for help, what can they reach you about?

Lavina Mehta: Yeah, if you want any inspiration, I guess, on health and wellness, um, I post a lot about my own perimenopausal journey, um, about simple tools that we can use in our day to day lives, exercise snacks and longer chair workouts, workplace wellness as well. So yeah, please reach out, have a look at all my social media.

Lavina Mehta: Hopefully there's a lot of content there and a lot of free workouts as well. And I do have my Facebook community as well, which is, you know, like saved workouts that women can have a proper community and use online. So I'm trying to make it very accessible. If you're thinking about exercising and just jump on my page and even try one of my exercise snacks out.

Amardeep Parmar: And then  on the other side, what's something that you need help with right now? What's something that maybe somebody [00:35:00] in the audience could help you with? 

Lavina Mehta: So what I would love help with is, um, actually sharing my workouts. So if you could just tell one person, whether it's your sibling or your parent or your grandparent, there is no age barrier.

Lavina Mehta: There's no ability barrier to my workouts. They've gone up to the age of a hundred. Um, please just tell someone to join in so that, that way I can continue my mission to help. As many people feel good as possible. 

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to the audience? 

Lavina Mehta: No, I think, you know, what you guys are doing at the Bay HQ is incredible.

Lavina Mehta: I'm very much about our community lifting each other. There is space and there's room for everyone. We're all different. I think the more support we can give each other, the better. So really thank you all for listening and thank you for having me on.

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you for listening to the BAE HQ podcast today and our mission to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs. [00:36:00] But it means so much to us. If you could subscribe to our channel, leave a review and share this with your friends.

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